Loyd Grossman: Ironbridge cooling towers can be saved from demolition
Former Masterchef presenter Loyd Grossman has urged people who want to see Ironbridge Power Station’s cooling towers saved from demolition to draw inspiration from other campaigners.
Mr Grossman, chairman of the Heritage Alliance, made the comments when responding to a member of the public after delivering the Annual Ironbridge Gorge Lecture – on the topic of “Heritage in the Post Truth World”.
Quizzed on whether he would like to see the cooling towers retained Mr Grossman, who had earlier spoken about how the Iron Bridge “changed the world”, said: “If people feel these cooling towers are an important part of their lives here they should be listed.”
Mr Grossman returned to an example given during his lecture of how a campaign from the public saved Preston bus station from demolition by the local council.
The example of Brutalist architecture is now the centrepiece and focus of new regeneration plans.
He said: “We are back to Preston bus station.
“They campaigned for something like 10 years and it is hard, especially if there are alternative development plans because quite often developers have quite a different focus and far greater resources than small groups of citizens.
“But I am in favour of people locally deciding what they value.”
Speaking prior to the lecture, which took place at the Enginuity Museum, Mr Grossman, spoke of his affection for Ironbridge and another of Shropshire’s historic towns, Ludlow.
He also praised the Ironbridge Gorge Trust for its work to share the bridge and its history with tourists from across the world.
He said: “The bridge is the symbol of the industrial revolution and the bridge changed the world and the fact this great creation is here is phenomenal.
“The Ironbridge Gorge Trust has done a wonderful job of looking after the bridge over the years and it has added more and more heritage attractions, and is doing an amazing job to help people interpret things.”
He added: “Because it was probably the first place I visited in Shropshire one of my favourite places is Ludlow.
“I love Ludlow. I was first attracted because of the castle but then strangely it became this huge foodie place.”
Following his lecture Mr Grossman was also asked about the balance of attracting tourists to see heritage like the Iron Bridge, and the damage that can be caused by too many visitors.
He offered the example of Venice as a city being destroyed by the number of tourists who visit.
He said: “That is such a profound question because you need to look at the greatest example of the greatest heritage being destroyed by weight of numbers and that is Venice. If anyone is wanting to go to Venice go soon because it is just being crushed by the weight of numbers of low value tourists decanted from cruise ships who do not put anything into the economy apart from the mooring fees for cruise ships.
“It will be the most beautiful dead city on earth and an object lesson in how you can mismanage heritage.”
He added: “How you ration heritage other than through pricing is a problem for so many of us.” Mr Grossman, also famous for presenting the TV show Through The Keyhole in which a panel of contestants have to guess the identity of celebrity homeowners, said he believed that the process of listing buildings could also be reviewed.
He said: “The whole listing system, and I say this with some trepidation because there will be people in here who know a lot more about it than me, but it needs to re-looked at because it was devised in the late 1940s and there is a lot that needs to be fixed with it.
“I would like to see a much greater amount of localism in listing.”